Dana Drosdick

Dana Drosdick
Digital Communications and Spanish
Ballston Spa, New York

4. Cultural Differences: Walking, Walking, Walking

The first night I got to my house, my host mother told me, “Don’t worry about gaining weight, cariña. You’ll walk so much here you won’t gain an ounce.” I’m still not sure if the weight thing is true, since the foods here are rich and thick, but I am sure that she was right about the walking. Here, walking is inevitable. You walk to get your groceries. You walk to and from your classes. You walk to a café. You walk sometimes just to walk.

The first day in Spain, we probably walked for about 10 hours. My calves felt underprepared for this long trek, and I regretted the years of inactivity I had throughout my life. (In my defense, my coordination is absolutely non-existent. I cannot play sports to save my life.) Now that things are more settled down, I probably walk at least an hour every day, but usually more.

Walking has taught me to slow down and to relax. It’s easy in the car to be preoccupied with other things (a.k.a. the slow driver in front of you. Where do you think we are, buddy? Canada?). Walking allows me to go at my own pace and really look at the world around me. I’ve started to notice the little things. Flowers in a flowerbed. The colors of the stores. The shoes that people wear. The cracks in the road. There are so many little details that God puts all around us that are so easy to ignore and overlook. Sometimes it takes slowing down to notice those little gifts from God. I’m grateful for the opportunity to walk, even when it makes my legs hurt, so that I can notice these little signs reminding me that God is here and present.